'The Office' star's Anne Frank 'jokes' appal TV viewers

Viewers have threatened to boycott shows by Ricky Gervais, after he joked that Anne Frank's family went into hiding from the Nazis because they did not want to pay rent.

The comedian has been harshly criticised in the UK and across the Atlantic for using Anne Frank as "comedic fodder" on The Daily Show in the US.

Host Jon Stewart, who is Jewish, looked visibly uncomfortable when Mr Gervais joked how the Nazis must have been "stupid" not to have found the 15-year-old diarist and her family sooner.

Speaking about his TV show, An Idiot Abroad, with Karl Pilkington, Mr Gervais said Mr Pilkington had genuinely believed the family had been trying to avoid paying for their apartment.

The Frank family were discovered, after two years in hiding, in August 1944. Anne, her mother and sister died in the concentration camps.

Mr Stewart told Mr Gervais: "She didn't live in a Nazi's houseā€¦ they didn't come in every day," before advising him to "read the book".

Mr Gervais has previously included jokes about Anne Frank in his stand-up routines, such as: "She had time to write a novel; mind you, it ends a bit abruptly. No sequel. Lazy."

Gillian Walnes, director of the Anne Frank Trust, said the jokes could be dangerous if viewers were not informed about the Frank story.

Last updated: 3:38pm, April 19 2012